Trap, neuter, release is effective, humane

In a recent letter, a veterinarian wrote, “… we abandon uncounted millions of cats in trap-neuter-return programs, lacking the appropriate guardians and facilities to ensure that they have protection from starvation, the elements, predators, cars and cruel humans.”

I respectfully disagree with the above statement. TNR programs are widely recognized as “life-saving” since truly feral cats are not suitable for placement into homes and if admitted to an animal shelter are often euthanized. TNR allows free-roaming cats to be sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and returned to their site of trapping. In the process of TNR, if any cats are identified to be sociable with humans, they may be diverted to adoption programs. If any cats have a life-threatening illness or injury, euthanasia is an option. If determined to be in good body condition and healthy, sterilized cats are allowed to live their remaining lives in an environment that has become home to them. Once spayed or neutered, complaints related to the presence of free-roaming cats (spraying, vocalization, fighting) often greatly decrease.

It is not humane nor does it make sense to kill free-roaming cats today because they might become ill/injured or die tomorrow. Unfortunately, placement of all free-roaming cats in sanctuaries is cost prohibitive and not realistic. At this time, the most humane, effective and financially sustainable strategy for controlling free-roaming cat populations and saving the lives of individual cats is TNR.

Kathleen Makolinski, D.V.M.

Co-founder, Feral Cat FOCUS

Senior Director, Shelter Research

and Development, ASPCA, New York